Neeraj Aarora



Clearing CISSP exam in first attempt made me a winner in eyes of everyone…. my friends and other acquaintances on various social media sites like face book, LinkedIn and whatsApp started applauding me and then started pouring in queries as to the how part of preparation. So I decided to summarize my experience in the form of a piece of text which is now before you.

Clearing the exams wasn’t an easy job….. It was preparation & continuous hard work of about 6 months. It is important to understand the concepts and the best way is to integrate the preparations in iterative manner combining the study, video & questions together so that gaps arising from the questions are filled through conceptual clearance rather that just knowing the answer. The reference material used by me included:-

  1. Shon Harris 6th Edition – Read twice
  2. Shon Harries & Cybrary Videos
  3. Mcgraw Hill Practice questions
  4. CISSP CBK 4th Edition
  5. Question answers from various sources

The scenario/conceptual based questions were quite challenging which I could answer based on my preparation and experience. The questions seek to test the candidate’s analytical ability of decision making in various typical situations. While doing the MCQs, it is more important to understand why apart from the choice that is the answer, other three choices are incorrect.

Basically what happens when we study –

  • we do not know exactly what portion of topic is most relevant and need to be understood.
  • Theoretical studies become boring and after a while one starts losing concentration because one is not able to connect the content of the topic from the abstract view of the exam which in fact is required.

Further, studying these topics have a limited retention until you have specifically worked on these subjects or have studied earlier and your concept are clear on the issue.

What I did:

  • I combined the study through Videos, Audios, books & question answer. Each method of study whether it be Videos, Audios or books, give you different retentions as the approach in the presentations are different and even the recipients’ concentration level is also different in each mode. For example, when you hear through audio mode, you have to be very high concentration because as you miss, you lose track of topic and cannot go any further and thus by continuous listening, the concept becomes clear and gaps becomes clear. Similarly, in the Videos, because of the visual presentation , the retention tends to be more. The question answer gives you challenge and even if you give wrong answer, it creates an curiosity to know, it makes us understand what we do not know, it gives us idea as to in which area we are weak and needs further improvement.
  • I integrated the study from all these methods at the same time. First, I studied the topic from the Shon Harries, followed by the question answer on the same sub-topic. After doing the question answer, I would have some idea about the gap, things I miss, the concept I need to know, area which needs improvement. Then, I will go through Video on the same subtopic, now the gaps which I came across during the question answer will be cleared and I would continue with question answers and followed by the audios on the same subtopic, which will further clarify the concept and also fill the remaining gap on the same topics.

I find this approach very effective as it helps in understanding the concept in depth which ensures one’s success in the CISSP examination.

Here are certain FAQs that must be boggling your mind since the time we started with this article –

Q. Whether study from Shon Harris, 6th edition is sufficient?

Ans:No, because the syllabus has changed considerably and one needs to study as per new syllabus as such, studying from the CISSP CBK 4th edition is must. The best way is to go through Shon Harris, 6th edition atleast twice and acquire the conceptual knowledge as it is an excellent book which explains the topic in a lucid manner and also in quite detail. Then one can go through CISSP CBK 4th edition updating the latest content on the topic already covered in Shon Harris book and also the new topics, there by covering the entire syllabus.

Q. Whether it is necessary to study the topic covered in Shon Harris again from CISSP CBK 4th Edition?

Ans: Yes, most of the topics covered in the Shon Harries have been updated in the CISSP CBK 4th edition and contains updated technologies and so it is necessary to read them from CISSP CBK.

Q. What are the best resources for the question, answer for preparation of CISSP Examination?

Ans:First thing, the question- answers are not repeated in the examination. So, do not expect to get the questions from these resources to figure in the CISSP examination. The questions-answer given on most of the websites are far away from the actual pattern of the CISSP examination. Instead, the pattern of the question in the CISSP Examination is more complex as compared to questions on these websites. Very few relevant questions are there particularly on the topic added in the new syllabus. No doubt, the question answer helps most in preparation. It helps in finding the gaps in preparations, understanding the area which requires further efforts, concept which needs to be understood.

I find the question answer given at the end of the chapter in the Shon Harries and Eric Konard most relevant & effective.

Q. How much time is required for preparations?

Ans:It varies from individual to individual depending upon his experience, prior education and knowledge about the topics in the examination. One can make optimum utilization of time by listening to the audios while commuting on his smart mobile, doing question answer whenever he gets a little time on you mobile itself, can look upon videos when feel heavy or tired, study from the books whenever comfortable. The combination of these would ensure understanding of concept and success in the examination.

Q. What is best advice for preparation of CISSP examination?

Ans:Be sincere in your studies and have the approach of understanding the concepts which would be more effective in building your skills and will also ensure success in the CISSP examination.

Apart from understanding the concepts, one has to have abstract view of these concept and ability to integrate them with real world situation, which I would refer to as decision making ability.

All the best for your examination!!!



  • Veri nicely explained…Neeraj. Congrats once again.

  • shreeharsha ab /

    Great advice. I am just at the starting point of it and very new. I see you have updated to read the Shon Harris book first and I think this is with the old syllabus. How did you start? Did you go topic by topic or just read the entire book.

  • shreeharsha ab /

    Thank you for the detailed explanation. I am just at the beginning of it and new. I had a query. I see you have suggested to better begin with shon harris but I believe it is with old syllabus. How did you read the book? Complete book or just the relevant topics. Also it would be great if you can share your email I’d so I can send you for clarification or doubts.

    • I have studied the shon harris cissp book, minutely and twice. I makes sure that concept should be clear to me and then I have studied the new topic from new book CBK.


      Neeraj Aarora

  • neeraj sisodia /

    sir I’m studying of CEH in IANT from delhi….
    were you student of IANT delhi…….study of CEH….

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